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Jack vs. Tiger: Who's the Greatest Golfer?

Greatest Golfer (GOAT)  

180 members have voted

  1. 1. Tiger or Jack: Who's the greatest golfer?

    • Tiger Woods is the man
      1636
    • Jack Nicklaus is my favorite
      811


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2 hours ago, iacas said:

If you've got 10 guys who are really great, and then 140 guys who are average to bad, those 10 guys are going to win a lot more. That's Jack's era. Then today you have 20 really great players, and 130 really very good players… the wins are going to be spread out more.

Here's something to try on: All of Tiger's 81 PGA Tour victories had stronger fields than Jack faced in the first nine of his major victories, and upwards of 50+ of them had stronger fields than Jack faced in all 18 of them.

 

And Tiger's faced stiffer competition now than Jack ever faced.

 

 

We're talking about Tiger's first run (1997 - 2008) not today when talking about strength of field. Yes, I agree with you that the players today (top to bottom) are much better than back when Jack played. The depth is incredibly more challenging, even during the first run (today's much better than it was 15 - 20 years ago). 

Okay, sure, Tiger's 81 victories have had stronger fields top to bottom: but what about the top guys during that first run? Who are they, outside of Phil, Sergio and Ernie? Fred Couples is like the next best guy. Harrington had a few good years. There's like nobody else (I guess you could name Furyk or Vijay, but neither of them are on par with Hale Irwin or Johnny Miller). 

So what if each of these guys would have won more and more majors? They didn't, even when Tiger was absent off and on for a decade. 

So your top guys for Tiger (during that first run) are: 

1. Phil

2. Ernie

3. Vijay

4. Sergio

5. DJ

6. Rory 

And what about Jack? 

1. Tom Watson

2. Seve Ballesteros 

3. Lee Trevino

4. Gary Player

5. Arnold Palmer

6. Johnny Miller

7. Hale Irwin 

Heck, if you want to go even deeper at the end of his run, you've got Greg Norman and Nick Faldo. You can't tell me that those names are worse or less skilled than the guys you named as Tiger's primary challenge during his first run. 

Here's another thing to consider: Tom Watson in 2009 nearly won the open at 59. If that doesn't say something about how great Tom was, and just how weak the top of the field that Tiger had to contend with during his run was, then nothing else will. 

It was harder for Jack with the top guys; It's harder for Tiger with strength of depth. To me, it's a wash saying which field was harder to compete in. To me, the rivalries are much more indicative of just how great a player is. With Jack, you've got plenty of guys to pick from. That's not the case with Tiger. 

And yes, the game is different. You have much more forgiving clubs, and you don't see guys needing to use a 1 iron off the tee to play a long par 3. Putting is certainly different, too. The length of the courses today are longer, but are better kept. Each era presents it's own challenges, and when you're talking about all time greatness, you need to keep that in mind. 

Anyway, I'm sticking to my guns here: Jack, as of right now, is still the GOAT. At the end of his career, Tiger will likely pass him. What does Tiger need to do to pass Jack? Win at least 1 more major against the field today; if he can dominate these guys like the last generation, then there's no question as to who's the best of all time. 

And one more thing: Bobby was great. The guy deserves credit for what he did. 

 

 

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36 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

We're talking about Tiger's first run (1997 - 2008) not today when talking about strength of field.

Two points to that:

  • Who says? I'm talking about all of Tiger's career.
  • Even if we grant you that, Tiger's competition in 1997-2008 was significantly better than Jack's. Even Jack will tell you that - and did in his 1996 autobiography.
36 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

Yes, I agree with you that the players today (top to bottom) are much better than back when Jack played. The depth is incredibly more challenging, even during the first run (today's much better than it was 15 - 20 years ago).

I disagree it's much better. It's better, but the gap between 2008 and 2019 is smaller than the gap between 1986 and 1997, even. Or, more realistically, 1980 and 1997.

Did you look at and try to understand the points illustrated by the graphics above? Do you notice the slope of that one line declining as it approaches the axis?

35 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

Okay, sure, Tiger's 81 victories have had stronger fields top to bottom: but what about the top guys during that first run? Who are they, outside of Phil, Sergio and Ernie?

Oh my goodness.

In a field of 10 As, 20 Bs, and 120 C-Fs, it's pretty easy for even the 20 Bs to make a name for themselves.

If the field is instead 35 As and the other 115 players are A-s and B+s, even the As are going to have a tougher time "distinguishing" themselves.

35 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

So what if each of these guys would have won more and more majors? They didn't, even when Tiger was absent off and on for a decade.

I'd re-post what I just wrote above. Or look at this again:

strength_and_depth.jpg

35 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

Heck, if you want to go even deeper at the end of his run, you've got Greg Norman and Nick Faldo. You can't tell me that those names are worse or less skilled than the guys you named as Tiger's primary challenge during his first run.

Sure I can.

And Jack Nicklaus himself can try, too.

Look again at the 1959 British Open field, and tell me if Gary Player deserves the exact same credit he gets for that adding one to his major count over, say, Phil Mickelson winning the British Open in 2013?

Again, those other competitors you're so quick to name also benefitted by playing against club pros and weak rabbits. Their stats are also boosted. They are made to look like "stiffer" competition because they too got a lot of wins and top fives and whatnot against a field of nobody chops who almost never stood a chance of winning.

Again, the football team from a city of 50,000 is likely going to be a lot stronger at every position than the football team from a city of 500.

35 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

Here's another thing to consider: Tom Watson in 2009 nearly won the open at 59. If that doesn't say something about how great Tom was, and just how weak the top of the field that Tiger had to contend with during his run was, then nothing else will.

That was a one-time freak occurrence that could only really have occurred at a British Open (with baked out fairways and the difference in style of play being so dramatic). It's not like the other names you listed continued to do things like that with any regularity whatsoever.

35 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

It was harder for Jack with the top guys; It's harder for Tiger with strength of depth.

Not according to Jack Nicklaus himself or, unfortunately, common sense/logic or the way math works.

35 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

To me, the rivalries are much more indicative of just how great a player is. With Jack, you've got plenty of guys to pick from. That's not the case with Tiger. 

Because everyone is so much better now!

It's difficult to have rivalries when you're not regularly able to face the same two or three guys, because unlike in Jack's era, any one of about a hundred guys can win any given week.

35 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

And yes, the game is different. You have much more forgiving clubs

Which hurts Tiger's ability to separate himself from the field.

35 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

And yes, the game is different. You have much more forgiving clubs, and you don't see guys needing to use a 1 iron off the tee to play a long par 3. Putting is certainly different, too. The length of the courses today are longer, but are better kept. Each era presents it's own challenges, and when you're talking about all time greatness, you need to keep that in mind. 

None of that - except the equipment bit - really speaks to the topic.

Yes, it's a different game, but just as Jack could have adjusted to the modern game, Tiger could have adapted to the slower greens, the 1-irons, etc. of Jack's era.

35 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

Anyway, I'm sticking to my guns here: Jack, as of right now, is still the GOAT.

You get to have your own opinion, but you're not entitled to your own facts. You're seeing what you want to see in these "great players." But math, Jack Nicklaus himself, and some levels of common sense, etc. say differently.

35 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

And one more thing: Bobby was great. The guy deserves credit for what he did.

I didn't say he wasn't good. I said it's laughable to think he was a top three golfer of all time. I think I could name ten American golfers who I'd rank higher than Bobby Jones.

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2 hours ago, iggywriter said:

 

We're talking about Tiger's first run (1997 - 2008) not today when talking about strength of field. Yes, I agree with you that the players today (top to bottom) are much better than back when Jack played. The depth is incredibly more challenging, even during the first run (today's much better than it was 15 - 20 years ago). 

Okay, sure, Tiger's 81 victories have had stronger fields top to bottom: but what about the top guys during that first run? Who are they, outside of Phil, Sergio and Ernie? Fred Couples is like the next best guy. Harrington had a few good years. There's like nobody else (I guess you could name Furyk or Vijay, but neither of them are on par with Hale Irwin or Johnny Miller). 

So what if each of these guys would have won more and more majors? They didn't, even when Tiger was absent off and on for a decade. 

So your top guys for Tiger (during that first run) are: 

1. Phil

2. Ernie

3. Vijay

4. Sergio

5. DJ

6. Rory 

And what about Jack? 

1. Tom Watson

2. Seve Ballesteros 

3. Lee Trevino

4. Gary Player

5. Arnold Palmer

6. Johnny Miller

7. Hale Irwin 

Heck, if you want to go even deeper at the end of his run, you've got Greg Norman and Nick Faldo. You can't tell me that those names are worse or less skilled than the guys you named as Tiger's primary challenge during his first run. 

Here's another thing to consider: Tom Watson in 2009 nearly won the open at 59. If that doesn't say something about how great Tom was, and just how weak the top of the field that Tiger had to contend with during his run was, then nothing else will. 

It was harder for Jack with the top guys; It's harder for Tiger with strength of depth. To me, it's a wash saying which field was harder to compete in. To me, the rivalries are much more indicative of just how great a player is. With Jack, you've got plenty of guys to pick from. That's not the case with Tiger. 

And yes, the game is different. You have much more forgiving clubs, and you don't see guys needing to use a 1 iron off the tee to play a long par 3. Putting is certainly different, too. The length of the courses today are longer, but are better kept. Each era presents it's own challenges, and when you're talking about all time greatness, you need to keep that in mind. 

Anyway, I'm sticking to my guns here: Jack, as of right now, is still the GOAT. At the end of his career, Tiger will likely pass him. What does Tiger need to do to pass Jack? Win at least 1 more major against the field today; if he can dominate these guys like the last generation, then there's no question as to who's the best of all time. 

And one more thing: Bobby was great. The guy deserves credit for what he did. 

 

 

Jack contradicted almost everything you just wrote in his 1996 biography.  You can find the quotes in this thread.

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Did someone say Hale Irwin is better than Vijay? The numbers don't back that up. Both have 3 majors. Vijay has 34 wins on PGA Tour. Hale has 20 wins on PGA Tour. Vijay has 10 Euro Tour wins. Hale has zero Euro Tour wins. I'm not giving any extra credit for Senior Tour stuff. Don't give a damn about it. Tiger won't ever play it. So that alone makes it completely irrelevant in this discussion. 

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It's all over now.  Tiger notching his 15th...after all the personal, and physical, trauma...makes him the damnedest golfer that's ever come down the pike.  We can argue era vs. era till the cows die of old age but no one moves the needle like a half Thai half American who wears a red shirt on Sunday.  Is he "better" than Bobby Jones, or Walter Hagen, or Sam Snead, or Ben Hogan, or Jack Nicklaus?  We won't ever know.  Is he the best golfer we have ever seen?  Yeah...he is.

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Pros from 1997-2008 who were of similar caliber to the stars during Jack's time (Irwin, Watson, Seve, Trevino, Player, Palmer, and Miller), listed in no particular order:

  1. Phil Mickelson
  2. Ernie Els
  3. David Duval
  4. Nick Price
  5. Davis Love III
  6. Vijay Singh
  7. Fred Couples
  8. Jim Furyk
  9. Sergio Garcia
  10. Mark Calcavecchia
  11. Chris DiMarco
  12. Fred Funk
  13. Brad Faxon
  14. Nick Faldo
  15. Stewart Cink
  16. David Toms
  17. Luke Donald
  18. Payne Stewart
  19. Padraig Harrington
  20. Literally any other player in the top 20ish each year for scoring average that averaged fewer than 70 strokes per round

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An amazing continuation of a discussion, which IMO is with people who can't give up the feeling that they like Jack better than Tiger. Tiger certainly has played at a higher lever, on tour with much deeper fields and better players.
While I had thought for year Tiger was the GOAT, the one thing lacking IMO he had in his accomplishments was coming from behind (after 54 holes) to win a major; and what he did last Sunday certainly showed that he has that in him (and against one of the best back 9 leaderboards that I can remember)
I fully expect this to go on for pages and pages.

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It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if Tiger won all 4 majors this year, passed Snead, won the grand slam, tied Jack’s majors record and people would still say, “but jack has more top 10’s!”

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1 hour ago, lastings said:

It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if Tiger won all 4 majors this year, passed Snead, won the grand slam, tied Jack’s majors record and people would still say, “but jack has more top 10’s!”

Agreed.  There are a lot of people out there who said 18>14 and now say 18>15, and I have no doubt some of them will insist that 18>18 and even 18>19 if it ever comes to that.

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I chose Tiger not just because of his win at the 2019 Masters but for a period of about 10 years he was the most talented golfer there ever was.   As of now Jack probably had the better overall career and had a world of talent also.  Both of these golfers pulled off improbable Masters wins but for entirely different reasons.  Jack's game was down in 1986 (for him) but he managed to summon up the magic for the Masters.  Tiger's game was gone for quite a few years but after multiple surgeries he is back in the top 10 after winning the 2018 Tour Championship and 2019 Masters.  I expect he will break Snead's record number of wins and likely win another major.

But is it was the wonder years of 1997 - 2007 when Tiger earned the title of greatest golfer of all time while Jack still has the greatest career of all time. 

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3 hours ago, lastings said:

It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if Tiger won all 4 majors this year, passed Snead, won the grand slam, tied Jack’s majors record and people would still say, “but jack has more top 10’s!”

They will. Some people simply can not grasp that facts don’t care about feelings. They feel putting is where the real money is. They feel Jack having 18 majors is better than Tiger’s 15. If any current top ten player went and played on the Mckenzie Tour and picked up a bunch of wins (he would) then those same people would say...’yeah but that’s among a lot weaker field.’ But if you then point out that several of Jack’s early major wins had a large number of club pros who had no chance of winning they would then reply, ‘oh yeah...well he had to beat Player, Watson, Weiskop and Plamer...you call them weak players!?’ They’ll never get it because they don’t want to get it.

Edited by Vinsk

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14 hours ago, Pretzel said:

Pros from 1997-2008 who were of similar caliber to the stars during Jack's time (Irwin, Watson, Seve, Trevino, Player, Palmer, and Miller), listed in no particular order:

  1. Phil Mickelson
  2. Ernie Els
  3. David Duval
  4. Nick Price
  5. Davis Love III
  6. Vijay Singh
  7. Fred Couples
  8. Jim Furyk
  9. Sergio Garcia
  10. Mark Calcavecchia
  11. Chris DiMarco
  12. Fred Funk
  13. Brad Faxon
  14. Nick Faldo
  15. Stewart Cink
  16. David Toms
  17. Luke Donald
  18. Payne Stewart
  19. Padraig Harrington
  20. Literally any other player in the top 20ish each year for scoring average that averaged fewer than 70 strokes per round

I'm not arguing that Jack was better than Tiger, but Chris DiMarco shouldn't be compared to the likes of Seve, Watson etc. He had a good spell for about 3 years, came second in a couple of majors and that's about it.

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4 minutes ago, Beastie said:

but Chris DiMarco shouldn't be compared to the likes of Seve, Watson etc. He had a good spell for about 3 years, came second in a couple of majors and that's about it.

That also is an indication of how deep the fields have gotten. A lot of really good golfers get bounced off the Tour.

Also, Watson might be top 5 in terms of competition against Jack. DiMarco is outside the top 10. You may be cherry picking there.

 

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1 minute ago, saevel25 said:

That also is an indication of how deep the fields have gotten. A lot of really good golfers get bounced off the Tour.

Also, Watson might be top 5 in terms of competition against Jack. DiMarco is outside the top 10. You may be cherry picking there.

 

I wouldn't say "cherry picking" just out all the names Pretzel listed, it struck me straightaway that DiMarco didn't really match up to the others on that list , never mind to a guy with 8 majors........... 

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11 minutes ago, Beastie said:

I wouldn't say "cherry picking" just out all the names Pretzel listed, it struck me straightaway that DiMarco didn't really match up to the others on that list , never mind to a guy with 8 majors........... 

Easier for a guy to win 8 majors when the fields are not that strong ;)

 

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3 hours ago, saevel25 said:

Easier for a guy to win 8 majors when the fields are not that strong 😉

 

The point they never get.  

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14 minutes ago, turtleback said:

The point they never get.  

Well some just don’t believe Jack’s field was weaker. Unfortunately they’ll never understand that. Even John Mcguiness (sp?) on the radio said, ‘Jack’s my GOAT..that’s just me.’ Yeah ok...but in a discussion of who’s the GOAT we have to disregard feelings and that’s what many don’t get. It’s not who do you like. It’s who’s the GOAT.  Pure rant there.

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